Social network sites can be defined as web-based services that allow individuals to construct a public or semi-public profile in a bounded system. One can articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection and also view their list of connections and those made by others within the system. The nature of these connections may vary from site to site. A social network service focuses on building social relations between people who share similar interests or activities. They essentially consist of a profile, the person’s social links and a variety of additional services. Most social network sites provide a means for users to interact over the Internet, such as instant messaging and email. There has been a huge interest recently of the impact these sites have on society and an increasing number of academics have become interested in studying them. There are many dangers and problems in using these sites; however, there are also many benefits, to both the individual and society. I will explore the issues related to using social network sites; paying particular attention to the quality of communication it allows users.
There have been many concerns put forward by academics, people of the older generation and particularly the media about the apparent dangers of social network sites and some have even asserted that a ban from them be put in place. Some of these concerns include the breakdown of communication, ‘cyber bullying’ and problems associated with exposing personal details on these sites. In addition, they have expressed distress about social network sites being used as a means of communication for terrorist groups and causing people to become dangerously addicted to them. Due to the limited scope of this essay, I will only be considering issues relating to the communication that occurs between members of these sites; the idea of friendships, the quality of communication and problems with ‘cyber bullying’ and related suicides. I will argue that although there seems to be many problems with SNSs, we have gained a great deal from them, individually and in society as a whole.
According to an article in the Mail Online, the reason why social network sites are so popular is that they give the users a chance to express themselves, making them feel “important and accepted”. However, it also points out the many downfalls of using SNS; with the fears of it causing a breakdown in communication featuring prominently. The writer asserts that “Real-life chatting is, after all, far more perilous than in the cyber world” and continues to point out that the reason why this is true is the fact that we are unable to take time to conjure up clever responses and it also requires many skills, in being able to understand the other person’s voice tone, body language and even being sensitive to pheromones. The writer conveys her opinion with a very mocking and disapproving tone, almost forcing the reader to take up her point of view. The article solely focuses on the problems of SNS and does not explore the various benefits associated with them; therefore, this weakens the strength of the article in my opinion. Strong and emotive language is utilised throughout the article, with examples such as comparing the giving way of real conversations to screen dialogues to the way meat being packaged on the supermarket shelf had replaced, “killing, skinning and butchering an animal”. The writer also employs the use of scare-mongering, implying, with a great lack of evidence, that using social network sites could damage children’s brains, with the result that it immediately captures the reader’s attention and they are therefore more susceptible to the opinions conveyed in the article.
Archbishop Nichols, in an interview with The Times, agreed with the former article in the Daily Mail, that SNS are having a drastic effect...